At the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit held in Gandhinagar on Tuesday, Nobel Laureates backed genetically modified Food Technology to ensure Food Security. One of the Nobel Laureates, Richard Roberts (1993 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine), praised the fact of PM Narendra Modi being pro-GM and one who recognises the possibilities of genetically modified crops. He also said that there are many in our country who don not stand with PM Modi on the matter and called it “unfortunate”.
During the second session of dialogues, the topic of discussion was, “Local Research, Global Impact – Addressing Global Challenges”. It centred around the research to deal with communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and food security. Apart from Roberts, there were three others who took part in the discussion and the three included Harold Varmus (1989 Nobel for physiology or medicine), Randy Schekman (2013 Nobel for physiology or medicine) and Indian Venkatraman Radhakrishnan (2009 Nobel in Chemistry).
During the discussion on Food Security, Roberts lashed out at NGOs who are passing vague comments on it coining it as a step to procure “Monetary Benefits” and said that it is very “misfortunate” that organisations are misinterpreting it.
Roberts said that he is one of those who believes that if one is hungry, then food plays a vital role as compared to medicine. He also says that there are 1,800 people in this world who go to bed hungry every night which in his view quite unacceptable. He also added that there is a tremendous scope for GM food but people have been given wrong information because of the anti-GM movement by the NGOs like Greenpeace. They according to him kept persuading that the GM techniques are dangerous. He said that there is a lot of work going on in the field and there was absolutely no reason to believe why the so called Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful as compared to traditionally grown plants.
Roberts added that since people took the word of Nobel laureates “seriously”, they have launched a signature campaign of Nobel laureates in favour of the GM food. Presently, under the campaign, a total of 123 Nobel laureates have signed it and it is to convince governments that what they hear from Green Parties on GM food is wrong.
Finally, Radhakrishnan said that the same people who are against genetically modified food are perfectly okay with injecting themselves with genetically engineered insulin in case they are diabetic or in case of lymphoma, genetically moleculed antibodies. And said that the emotional disconnect between medicine and food is irrational.